Julius Caesar’s Legacy (?)

My last post was about locations in Rome that relate to Julius Caesar.  What always amazes me is that Romans still remember this man and leave flowers at his altar in the Roman Forum — more than 2,000 years after his death.

To this day, people leave flowers on the altar to the deified Julius Caesar.

But we have other traces of Julius Caesar in our modern lives, too. You may have heard we are still breathing Caesar’s last breath, which he expelled while dying from the stab wounds made by his assassins in 44 B.C.E. Apparently, math shows that one molecule of Caesar’s last breath will appear in your next breath. So, thank you, Caesar.

The Julian calendar is named for him. Caesar himself proposed reforming the Roman calendar, which had become a bit of a mess.

Depiction of a portion of the ancient Roman calendar found at Nero’s House at Anzio

Among other things, the Julian calendar created a standard year of 365 days plus a leap year of 366 days (most of us today in the Americas and Europe utilize the Gregorian calendar, from Pope Gregory XIII). Proposed by Caesar a year earlier, the Julian calendar took effect on January 1, 45 B.C.E.

This month, July, is named for Caesar too. So he gets his bit of continuing fame once every year and gives us a great month to go to the beach. Previously called Quintilis, as the fifth month of the calendar — because the previous calendar system started the year in March — the month was renamed in honor of Julius Caesar by the Roman Senate since it was the month of his birth.

The sixth month, Sextilis, would later be renamed in honor of Caesar’s adopted son Emperor Augustus. But, more on him in a future post.

Caesarian section birthing also comes to us from Julius Caesar. Though, there is considerable debate whether he was truly born this way. At the time, the procedure was traditionally only used where the mother died during childbirth; and his mother was around after his birth. It is thought that the name might instead go back to a Julian ancestor who was born this way.

One thing Caesar did leave the world, albeit quite briefly, was his son Caesarion, who was murdered by Augustus.

Head of Caesarion, more formally known as Ptolemy XV Philopator Philometor Caesar

The words Kaiser and Czar come from the word Caesar. The word “Kaiser”, as in Kaiser Wilhelm II, usually means the German Emperor, the Emperor of Austria, or the head of the Holy Roman Empire. The Merriam-Webster dictionary states it is more specifically, “the ruler of Germany from 1871 to 1918.” Likewise, “Caesar” became “Czar” in Russian.

The Italian name Cesare comes from Caesar too. The most famous holder of that name must be the notorious Cesare Borgia, the illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI.

Cesare Borgia

Perhaps the coolest thing we have from Julius Caesar is literally out of this world: the Julius Caesar crater on the moon (below, and noted on the lunar map at the top of this post). Note that humans first set foot on the moon in the month of July, 1969.

The Julius Caesar crater on the moon

Easier to get to, is Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas:

Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

Lest we get carried away, though, two things we don’t get from Julius Caesar?  The Orange Julius and the Caesar salad.